Thursday, August 29, 2013

Intergalactic Champion

Intergalactic Champion...never has there been a title that I would rather don. Intense doesn't even begin to describe the 2nd annual Whomporama Intergalactic Championships of Bodysurfing in Carolina Beach. To say that last Saturday was an intense roller coaster both emotionally and physically would be an understatement. It was also the most fun I've ever had in a contest!  

The Scene: Surf rock and reggae blaring through the PA all day, interspersed with occasional bursts from an 8 year old little girl screaming "Whomporama!!" and "Keep the beach clean!!" in her most lovely shrill frequencies kept everyone at attention. It was not quite as frequent as the unaware swimmers drifting into the already compressed contest site, followed by head judge Peyton Chitty waving them in from the 6 knot longshore current and occasional rip currents pulling them conveniently straight out into the lineup. This continued throughout the day, despite beach marshall and contest director Alex Torres "warning" them about the dangerous bodysurfers. 
Gray cool NE winds greeted us in the morning along with drifty wedging shorebreak. The first round was wrought with destruction. Plenty of whomping, and I think I even saw a dislocated shoulder. I picked up a couple raspberries myself. The sun eventually came out though turning up the heat, and the tide dropped providing more challenge for us torpedo people (ref. "Come Hell or High Water: The Plight of the Torpedo People). I first realized that to pull away from the competition after losing the double elimination first round, I would have risk swimming way out in round two and milk one in from the outside to the sand. My friend Kevin Murphy had the same idea, but gave up half way into the heat after not catching anything. I lucked out though and patience paid off as I kicked myself in until my nose scraped the beach. 
The heats that followed were wrought with fierce competition to get the longest wave, the best line, and the most maneuvers. By the finals the four of us left looked like we had been marooned at sea for 48 hours. Sunburned, bloodshot eyes, noodle arms/legs, salt encrusted hair, and a blank stare out to sea. After running out of water earlier in the day I resorted to robbing nearby coolers of melted ice water. With one banana and a hand full of granola left I, along with my competition, walked slowly down to the water, as opposed to the usual sprint, at the final countdown. Reserving all my energy for those 3 waves to the beach that I knew I would need I swam out slowly way up current from the flagged off contest zone. The whole heat was kind of a blur of frothing, sprinting down the beach, and fending off full body cramping. 
In the end it felt like we all won based on the fact that we even survived all 5 heats. No one could say who won because it was so close. My wife had left hours ago as she reached her solar intake capacity for the year, and I had little energy left to be motivated to do anything except go home and cook dinner for her for even coming down in the first place. 

The bittersweet theme for me throughout the whole thing though was learning of my grandmother's passing. My dad and I had driven 19 hours straight out to visit her a couple of weeks ago because things weren't looking great. We had such a good time though talking, telling stories, laughing, trying to sneak her out of that dreaded hospital where she had spent the past 2 weeks. Once we had gotten her home where she was happy and comfortable, I noticed her energy level drop, but in a peaceful sort of way. She spoke of wanting to pass without the pain. Her desire was to simply lay on her side and fall into that eternal sleep we're all destined for...That morning after losing my first heat I got a call from my dad that she had been taken off any type of support and the doctors had given her about 24 hours. I distinctly remember during the final swimming out and looking back up halfway out and watching the sun dip down behind the clouds, which had resettled over the sky. A brilliant palette of oranges mixed with the grays and blues. I stood awkwardly in my flippers on that shallow sandbar silently saying goodbye with a hand full of tears. After it passed, the blur of the final ensued and I walked up to my bag to find the voicemail from my mom... 
It wasn't until late that night (9pm) when I was passing into an exhausted sleep that I got a text from my friend Meg that read "Hell yeah whomp champ J sun Andre!!!!!!! You are a badass sir! You're the intergalactic champ!!! Alien whompers got nothing on you!" I won!...the Whomporama Intergalactic Championships...WHAT?! No way! I cheered as much as one can in semi-delirious, half asleep, half super stoked state. A couple of days later I received my killer customized SLYDE handboard trophy and now have my sights set on hurricane season and the intense amount of whomping that will inevitably be occuring!
Thanks again to everyone for making it such an awesome day and for creating such an awesome community. Michael Sing for his awesome photography! Peyton, Alex, Ethan & Meg, Sean & Jess and the Surfrider crew! Ben and Keira, Kevin, James, Walt, Eric, Tweed, all the groms rockin the speedos, the Wilcox family, and of course my lovely wife Jada for her undying support of my adventures and ridiculousness! Thanks also to Jeff and South End Surf Shop, West wetsuits, Smith Optics, Dakine, and The North Face for your support and friendship!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

SUP and South End

I held out as long as I could on Stand Up Paddling, but it's just too gosh darn fun! I got a great deal from my buddy Pete on a used delaminated tank of a board. the whole deck was delaminated so it was more of a home project than a good deal. With the help of Scott Busbey at In The Eye and Curtis Cromwell of Shortbus Skims I was able to build a vaccuum bag and reglue it, reglass it, put in a vent plug and some leash plugs to make a bungee system, and now I'm ready for adventuring!! Had a couple bad wipeouts trying to surf it, but met up with a dolphin while gliding around...

In other news, I am very excited to announce my joining forces with a fairly new shop on Wrightsville Beach...South End Surf Shop has invited me to be a part of their surf team. And not just a part, but their Team Manager...which basically just means I'm the designated grom leader = Awesome! I'm super stoked stoked to be part of such a hard shredding team of fun and positive surfers.

A couple other shout outs to Daniel Pullen and Julian Kehaya for landing me a couple of sweet shots in the east coast media!!
Eastern Surf Magazine ran a cool one...

and Local Sessions as well!!

Oh yeah...did I mention I built and started a couple of bee hives?...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Breath holding in the snow...while listening to Josh Garrels

While we got our first snow a couple of weeks ago here in Wilmington, I was busy holding my breath...not for snow, but for my Waterman Survival Certification with FII and In-Sea! With my instructors Ryan McInnis and Alex Llinas (Who also just trained Garrett McNamara for his 100' ride), I ramped up my in water safety and comfort skills ten-fold. It was such a great class that I plan on heading down to Florida in April to finish the Extended version of the class...I heard something about being tied to a brick and dropped to the bottom blind folded. Should be awesome!!
Head of the class...sort of...
Awesome instructors + photo bombing
Getting towed in...
Just keep swimming...and Don't Panic!

Unfortunately while I was under water Wilmington got the only snow we've seen in two years. Since I missed it, I decided to head for the mountains. I got to do a snowboarding with some good friends for my birthday...It's been a few years, but I managed to find some powder in the woods, and hit some boxes in the park. It was amazing how simlar it was to riding an alaia! Same rails, same outline, same feeling and body movement...only freezing cold. Thanks to Smith Optics and Helmets my face and head stayed protected. Unfortunately my ankle wasn't...ugghhh. Last run, last jump...sprained. A little rest and I should be good by next week. We also convinced my friend Josh to go down in his trunks...He got cold...wait til you see it in 120fps!!
Like riding an the snow
It's like laying at the bottom of the ocean...but frozen... 

And all this was iced off by an awesome performance in Raleigh by my friend Josh Garrels and Mason Jar Music crew. Maybe one of the best nights of music ever!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Bulls & El Bulls

A month is a long time to be away from home, but revisiting your original home, and then travelling to a place that feels like home makes it easy. My most recent adventure began in Chicago of all places. I headed up a 3 week long surf camp with WB Surf Camp by teaching for 3 days in Wheaton, Illinois with my codirector and trusty travel companion Steve Schroeder. We stayed with one of the coolest families I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, the Blocks. Bryan and Jennifer treated us as two of their own (they already have 4) and spoiled us the entire time. Their kids are also top notch. Super fun, always polite, and just full of positive electric energy.

Apart from the normal surfing and surf education that we generally give on the beach we had the opportunity to teach true marine biology, oceanography, and surf science to this lucky group of high schoolers from the midwest. While at Wheaton Academy we dissected squid, made a wave tank, tested water properties and we even got to jump in a pool with them one day and have them drag us around under water.  It was fun to say the least and we even got to go to a Bulls first NBA experience! We won!!!

Costa was filled with bulls...but also sea turtles, and plenty of good waves. We seemed to have spent more time with our friends down there this time though. Relaxing, surfing together, and sharing meals are 3 highly underrated activities that should happen more often and in succession. From the surf to the coffee to the gallo pinto, we shared all of our favorite things with others who traveled down from the States to learn to surf and relax. A huge thanks to Cairo & Courtney and Rafa & Monica who made our time there that much more smooth and awesome!

Here's just a few good memories from an amazing trip...from tall building to tall trees!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hand Plane For The Holiday

A lovely new hand carved hand plane for body sliding in the sea!
A custom creation for my good friend Ben Sciance.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Photos and Handplanes

Just a touch of surf some good shorebreak body surfing sessions in and ended up with a couple of handplane orders. Also got to go shoot yesterday at Masonboro. The waves today look fun though, so this is goin to be short! Have a nice day!